At some point, after they realize they'll never be the next Barry Bonds and before their joints tell them they're too old, young men turn to softball.
They get together with work/church/neighborhood buddies and order matching T-shirts, sometimes with secretly crude nicknames on the back. Some of the guys played college ball. Some haven't picked up a glove since T-ball. They whack the ball as hard as they can and sprint (which might look more like a fast jog) down the baselines. At then end of the game - win or loose - there's beer waiting in the parking lot (they long ago outgrew Capri Suns). It's the perfect, all-American, and for the most part, family friendly evening.
I spent many childhood summer nights in the stands at these games "watching" my dad play. That often really meant reading a book or climbing under the bleachers and playing with the other kids while our mothers yelled at us not to wander too far.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've found myself back at Cargill, watching my boyfriend and his buddies play. A book would hardly be good form at this point, so I chat with the other significant others and play with the kids, whose mothers yell at them not to wander off. And, actually, I watch some of the game so we can critique the umpire, fielding and hitting afterwards.
Funny how life seems to go in circles...
Photo: Times file, since my pictures of the Iron Fist turned out too blurry.